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New volcanic fissure opens in Hawaii; officials prepare evacuations

By Daniel Uria
A 16th volcanic fissure opened in Hawaii and produced a lava flow that traveled about 250 yards before coming to a halt. It was followed by a 17th fissure that spattered lava but didn't produce a consistent flow. Photo by Cheryl Gansecki/University of Hawaii/<a class="tpstyle" href="https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/multimedia_chronology.html">U.S. Geological Survey</a>
A 16th volcanic fissure opened in Hawaii and produced a lava flow that traveled about 250 yards before coming to a halt. It was followed by a 17th fissure that spattered lava but didn't produce a consistent flow. Photo by Cheryl Gansecki/University of Hawaii/U.S. Geological Survey

May 13 (UPI) -- Police ordered residents to prepare to evacuate on Hawaii's Big Island after a new fissure opened in the Kilauea volcano's east rift zone Sunday.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said the new fissure measured several hundred feet long and sent lava spatter tens of feet into the air, with slow-moving lava making its way away from the vent.

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"Elevated earthquake activity and ground deformation continue and additional outbreaks in the area remain likely," the HVO said.

Police went door to door on Halekamahina Loop Road to tell residents to evacuate while authorities urged residents of lower Puna to remain vigilant and ready to evacuate.

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"Residents of lower Puna between Kapoho and Kalapana are advised to be on the alert in the event of possible gas emissions and volcanic eruption," Hawaii County Civil Defense said. "There may be little to no advance notice to evacuate, so take this time to prepare."

Two other new volcanic fissures opened and began spewing lava on Hawaii's Big Island after the eruption of the Kilauea volcano Saturday.

The HVO reported that a 16th and 17th fissure opened on the island of Hawai'i about 100 feet apart from each other.

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Fissure 16 opened at about 6:45 a.m. Saturday and produced a lava flow that traveled about 250 yards before coming to a halt at 2:30 p.m., while fissure 17 produced spattering and degassing with no consistent flow.

The HVO also said there is a possibility of an explosive eruption at Kilauea's Halema'uma'u crater due to ongoing withdrawal of lava from Kilauea summit lake. The explosions could cause clouds of ash over an area up to 12 miles from the summit crater.

Due to the volcanic activity, residents of lower Puna between Kapoho and Kalapana were advised to be alert of possible gas emissions and volcanic eruption and police suspended all helicopter or drone activity without approval in the lower Puna area.

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The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported a magnitude-4.3 earthquake at 11:54 p.m. Saturday offshore from the Kalapana region of Kilauea Volcano.

No tsunami is expected, but some areas did experience shaking.

On Saturday, President Donald Trump declared Hawaii a disaster zone, clearing the way for federal funding assistance.

After the Kilauea volcano erupted, the lava burned 37 structures including 27 homes, and forced 1,700 evacuations.

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